Nov. 19, 2018

New Canada Research Chair bridges gap between research and practice with groundbreaking dementia studies

Brandy Callahan joins four returning UCalgary researchers in funding announcement
Brandy Callahan is a Tier II CRC in Adult Clinical Neuropsychology.

Brandy Callahan is a Tier II CRC in Adult Clinical Neuropsychology.

University of Calgary

On Tuesday Nov. 13, the Government of Canada announced 285 new research positions supporting equity, diversity, inclusiveness and early-career researchers, as part of the Canada Research Chairs (CRC) program.

Among those recognized were five University of Calgary scholars: renewals of current CRCs Dr. Jeff Priest, PhD, (Tier II CRC in Geomechanics of Gas Hydrates), Dr. Sabine Gilch, PhD, (Tier II CRC in Prion Disease Research), Dr. Leo Belostotski, PhD, (Tier II CRC in High-Sensitivity Radiometers & Receivers) and Dr. Joe Harrison, PhD, (Tier II CRC in Biofilm Microbiology and Genomics); and new chair Dr. Brandy Callahan, PhD, (Tier II CRC in Adult Clinical Neuropsychology).

“I am excited and grateful to have been chosen as a Canada Research Chair,” says Callahan, assistant professor of psychology in the Faculty of Arts, and member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the Cumming School of Medicine. “The protected research time I will have as a CRC will be a tremendous benefit to my research program, because it will allow me to focus most of my resources on conducting research studies, training young scientists, and getting my work out into the real world.”

Callahan’s research examines how to optimize the diagnosis of neurocognitive disorders in older adults, with a focus on comorbid conditions that may increase risk for cognitive decline, or alter signs of dementia.

Callahan’s program is one of the first in the world to investigate cognitive change in Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in relation to dementia. Callahan will create clarity around how dementia manifests in this group of older adults who are under-represented in dementia research.

This work, based out of Callahan’s Neurocognitive Disorders Lab, will broaden dementia knowledge to a wider, more representative range of individuals, improve disease estimates, reduce misdiagnoses, and help medical practitioners select disease-appropriate assessment and intervention methods.

“I worked hard to build the vision for my research program, and I was also mentored through the process by some amazing people here at UCalgary — in my department, in the Research Services Office, and at the faculty level,” says Callahan. “It’s a complicated process and success is not guaranteed, so I was thankful to have had the help.”

The CRC program is considered a cornerstone in Canada’s national strategy to lead in international research, and this years' announcement focused on a commitment to promoting equity and diversity within research, and supporting the next generation of research leaders. 

“Dr. Callahan is an early-career leader whose work will bridge the gap between research and practice, and we are pleased to see her expertise being recognized by the Government of Canada,” says Dr. Ed McCauley, vice-president (research). “Our CRCs are exceptional scholars, putting forward cutting-edge research and propelling the University of Calgary toward our Eyes High goals.”

The complete list of renewed and new Canada Research Chairs:


  • Dr. Jeff Priest, Tier II CRC in Geomechanics of Gas Hydrates (Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Dr. Sabine Gilch, Tier II CRC in Prion Disease Research (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and member, HBI)
  • Dr. Leo Belostotski, Tier II CRC in High-Sensitivity Radiometers & Receivers (Schulich School of Engineering)
  • Dr. Joe Harrison, Tier II CRC in Biofilm Microbiology and Genomics (Faculty of Science)

New chair

  • Dr. Brandy Callahan, Tier II CRC in Adult Clinical Neuropsychology (Faculty of Arts)